New texts between senior FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and his alleged lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page, have made the news again, this time as they appear to reveal possible collusion and conflict of interest between Strozk and a judge who sat on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to The Federalist.
That judge was Rudolph Contreras, the same judge who oversaw the guilty plea of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and was then mysteriously recused from the case just days later, suspiciously right around the time Strzok and Page’s texts first began to be reported in the media.
In the newly released texts, it appears as though Strozk and Page discussed Strozk’s friendship with Contreras, his appointment to the FISC and how their relationship and that appointment could best be utilized to the benefit of ongoing counterintelligence matters.
That conversation also included discussion of how Strozk should meet with Contreras in a “social setting” instead of a one-on-one meeting, such as a cocktail party in which other people from “work” would be present to provide “cover for action.”
Strzok took part in the Jan. 24, 2017, interview of Flynn in which the former NSA was alleged to have lied about his perfectly legal phone conversation with a Russian ambassador during the transition period. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in a deal that was accepted by Contreras on Dec. 1, 2017.
But Strzok, who joined Mueller’s investigation at some point in 2017, was revealed by the media the day after the guilty plea to have been removed from Mueller’s investigation at some point in the summer, at the same time his alleged affair and anti-Trump text messages with Page were revealed to the public.
Those text messages, as well as any notes Strzok may have written about Flynn, were then demanded in a letter to the FBI from Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassely on Dec. 5, 2017. Just two days later, Judge Contreras was recused without explanation from Flynn’s case, which was subsequently reassigned to Judge Emmet Sullivan.
Though unconfirmed at this point, it certainly appears as though the pre-existing relationship between Strzok and Contreras, and Strzok’s discussion with Page on how best to leverage that relationship to his benefit, may have been at least part of the reason behind the judge’s removal from the case.
Journalist Sara A. Carter reported that the newest text messages between Strzok and Page were discovered by investigators working with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows of the House Oversight Committee as part of their broader probe into the FBI’s handling of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
“Why did Contreras recuse himself?” Jordan asked. He admitted the full context of the recently released communications weren’t entirely clear, but added what was “clear is that the back and forth exchange shows that Strzok and (Contreras) were friends.”
“But we don’t know if the discussion regarding recusal has anything to do with Russia or if they were referring to another case,” Jordan added. “What we do know is that Contreras recused himself after the guilty plea, but we still don’t know why?”
Meadows pointed out that “recusal for a judge is a very high bar” and reiterated his standing request to the FBI and Department of Justice to turn over all relevant documents to the committee so members could be fully informed and provide proper oversight.
“That explains why he recused himself,” former U.S. Attorney for D.C. Joe diGenova told Fox News. “He knew he was a friend of Strzok’s when the case came to him. He should allow Flynn to withdraw the guilty plea.”
DiGenova added that Contreras “never should have taken the case” and pointed out the suspicious nature of the timeline of events, in that Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, Strzok and Page’s texts first surfaced on Dec. 2 and Contreras was recused on Dec. 7.
“Contreras violated the canons of judicial ethics,” he said. “If he knew Strzok was in charge of espionage, he never should have even gotten near it.”
Neither Mueller’s investigation nor the Department of Justice responded to requests for comments on these developments.
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